There is a reason why many older become unable to live independently. It happened to one of our neighbors twice in one year. She fell first in her kitchen and broke her back. She tripped over an area rug. She was in the hospital for months.
The second time she fell she broke her shoulder. She is now in a nursing home. Home Health Personal Support Aid Marian Hoskins told us that hardwood floors that are so fashionable right now are a hazard for seniors. Marian has over 30 years experience as an LPN on the surgical floor and ER.
She says if seniors fall on a hardwood floor, they WILL break something. But if they fall on padded carpet they may not. Many seniors slip on area rugs, too. Wall to wall carpet has a comfortable and uniform surface that is good for safety and preventing falls.
And falls are a problem and hazard for all seniors. Even with chronic illness they will be getting along fine and then all of a sudden they are NOT fine.
They might break a bone or not, but a fall can cause serious problems both for seniors and their families. Marian says the most common breaks are hips and arms. And many seniors end up in nursing care because of them. But at least some die as a result of a fall. The stress can bring on a heart attack or stroke.
At least some of the time a medication can cause dizziness or disorientation that may lead to a fall. Even over the counter medications can cause dizziness. Cold and allergy medications, sleeping pills, and a host of others can cause sleepiness or dizziness.
And some seniors may be over-medicated through forgetfulness or weight loss, both of which are common for senior patients. And another problem seniors encounter is that they may be living in homes that are not accessible.
Grab bars in bathrooms could make all the difference. But few families are willing to go through the disruptions, expense and inconvenience of making the old home truly accessible.
We advocate building code that requires accessibility built into all new homes and buildings, especially in bathrooms. We are all getting older. And a broken leg will convince any homeowner that accessibility is desirable in any living space.
Disability is not limited to seniors. Even a temporary injury or orthopedic operation for a young person can make accessibility a very great benefit for all homeowners and renters.
But grab bars are a good start for aging people and could prevent the kinds of falls and injuries that disable and even kill some seniors each year.
Additionally, careful monitoring of medications and their effect on an individual could prevent some injuries, too.
These falls caused by medications and/or hazards in homes are things that can be fixed with care and good planning. Seniors can do some things to help insure their safety. And families and caretakers can help, too. Fall injuries can take away our treasured independence. It’s worth a little time and expense to avoid these injuries.